Footage from a hidden CCTV camera inside a resident’s room at a Cairns nursing home has appeared online, revealing an 88-year-old woman being left alone in her room by an aged care worker despite the woman’s pleas to be taken to the toilet.
The hidden camera footage was posted online late last week by the 88-year-old woman’s daughter showing an incident that is alleged to have occurred at Bupa’s Mount Sheridan aged care facility.
The footage which has clearly been edited depicts an elderly resident sitting down in her room repeatedly pleading with a worker to take her to the toilet.
The female worker who is doing paperwork initially ignores the elderly woman’s requests before replying “you’ve got a pad on,” before the footage cuts.
The next frame of the footage shows the employee attempting to leave the room, before returning to the woman and saying “I haven’t got anyone, there’s nobody here to help me, they’re all busy.”
The worker then leaves the room while the 88-year-old resident continues to call out for assistance.
Bupa’s Regional Director, Philip Mackney commented on the footage in a statement given to HelloCare.
“The footage that we have seen is distressing and disturbing, and we are deeply sorry,” said Mr. Mackney.
“No resident in our care should expect this treatment. As soon as we became aware of the situation we started a full investigation, and as per standard practice, the staff member involved has been suspended pending the outcome.”
“We understand that our carer who was attending to the resident needed a second carer to assist with lifting the resident to escort her to the bathroom. The carer immediately called for another carer to assist, but no one was available straight away.”
“Our staffing levels for the Mt Sheridan home are above Bupa’s average, but there are unfortunately times where all carers are busy attending to other residents. We have contacted family members to discuss the matter.”
“Senior management have been onsite at our care home to speak with staff and assure residents and their families that this isn’t the care they should expect.”
“We are committed to ensuring residents in all our aged care homes receive the high-quality care, dignity, and quality of life they expect and deserve.”
A Sad Reality
Staffing issues in the Australian aged care sector are well documented, and unfortunately, stories of elderly residents being forced to sit in their own waste or being told to ‘use their continence pad’ are nothing new.
The fact of the matter is, that when compared to international benchmarks, research shows that more than half of Australian homes (57.6%) have unacceptable staffing levels, which compromises the quality of care for elderly residents.
Time constraints currently facing aged care facility staff members were highlighted by the ABC’s Four Corners investigation which found that personal care assistants had only six minutes to help residents shower and get dressed.
The Royal Commission’s Interim Report highlighted evidence showing that aged care workers often experience excessive work demands and time pressure to deliver care, recommending staff ratios as a solution to improve care conditions.
Despite this recommendation and pleas from the general public, the government and aged care peak bodies have continually advocated against these recommendations, opting for softer options under the guise of ‘flexibility.’
Recently, industry peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) issued a statement calling for ‘benchmarks’ to provide guidance on staffing levels, as opposed to the idea of mandated staff ratios.
According to LASA, providers would be “urged” to explain themselves in the case that these recommended benchmarks are not met.
Suggestions like this are an example of the constant watering-down and utter avoidance of recommendations being made by the Royal Commission from those who govern and wield considerable power in the aged care industry.
Photo Screen Shot taken from online video footage.